Moments ago i spoke with Kent. He's in Lima. He's happy and healthy. He said, "I am chugging along at my own pace, going as fast as I can."
He's at mile 900 of the race (plus another 845 from his 'prologue' ride to Banff.).
Yesterday he rode with a couple of bike tourists from Portland. It was a really nice ride -- a fairly easy section including a paved climb.
He was eating as he spoke to me on his cell phone from the lobby of the post office. He was there to send off a memory card from his camera. I will post those photos as soon as they arrive. I'm excited about them. He promised good photos of his tires caked with mud.
The Mountain Turtle related the following story about changing expectations.
"So I'm rolling along through the mud, and I'm thinking 'wow, this is really slow riding!'. A little while later I'm pushing the bike through the mud and I'm thinking 'Wow, this is really slow walking!'. After a while it becomes 'Gee, I wish my wheels would just turn, it was easier when the wheels would roll.' And then a bit later, 'You know, my feet are getting really heavy...' "
When the sun comes out it all becomes ridable, the wheels roll.
Another story he related. He was rolling along pretty well, "and then I hit the Sheep Creek Divide, which is labeled on the map: 'impassible when wet'. It starts off well, but I see a big thunderstorm coming in and I wonder if it's going to hit. I ride on a bit. It hits. I ride in it a bit and I'm thinking 'this is pretty freakin' epic.' [and coming from Kent, that's saying something! -ed]
"This is ranch country and before long I see this old, old building behind a gate. It looks like it was once was cabin, but it is now maybe a cow shelter. The gate is not locked, neither is the door to the cabin, it's just wired shut to keep from slamming in the wind. And best of all there are no 'No Trespassing' signs.
"So I hole up there for half an hour -- it's a really epic Thunderstorm." When it's over I ride for an hour in the mud before I encounter another storm. I ride through that and eventually I see this big rock formation in the distance and I know immediately: 'That's my camp.'
"It is 8 pm when I pull up. I've gotten really good at pitching the tarp quickly, using the bike and one stake. I had a lovely sleep, and then this morning, more mud walking."
He said the mud is not only a challenge out there, but it's a real danger to the equipment. He expressed sympathy for the guys who have derailleurs, which the mud can just strip right off. He spoke highly of Jon Billman's system (correction, it's Mike Gibney's system!), which Kent believes is a Rohloff 14 speed internal geared hub, kind of the best of both worlds. Kent said he thought that was great for these conditions.
He talked about how the mud gets packed on everything and then starts to rub and wear. When the mud built up on his tire, the muddy tire then wore through the strap on the back of his triangle pack, he replaced it with zipties.
He said, "I really worry about the guys with carbon frames, I really think the mud may wear out carbon frames. I'm really glad I've got a steel frame -- but I am losing paint like you wouldn't believe!"